Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To delay, hinder, or prevent by taking precautionary measures beforehand. See Synonyms at prevent.
  • transitive v. To deal with or think of beforehand; anticipate.
  • transitive v. To prevent or hinder normal sales in (a market) by buying up merchandise, discouraging persons from bringing their goods to market, or encouraging an increase in prices in goods already on sale.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ambush; plot; an interception; waylaying; rescue.
  • n. Something situated or placed in front.
  • v. To prevent, delay or hinder something by taking precautionary or anticipatory measures; to avert.
  • v. To preclude or bar from happening, render impossible.
  • v. To purchase the complete supply of a good, particularly foodstuffs, in order to charge a monopoly price.
  • v. To anticipate, to act foreseeingly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To take beforehand, or in advance; to anticipate.
  • transitive v. To take possession of, in advance of some one or something else, to the exclusion or detriment of the latter; to get ahead of; to preoccupy; also, to exclude, hinder, or prevent, by prior occupation, or by measures taken in advance.
  • transitive v. To deprive; -- with of.
  • transitive v. To obstruct or stop up, as a way; to stop the passage of on highway; to intercept on the road, as goods on the way to market.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To buy up, as merchandise, before it has reached the market or before market-hours, and hence by taking advantage of others in any way, with the intention of selling again at an unduly increased price.
  • In law, to obstruct or stop up, as away; intercept on the road.
  • To diminish; deprive by something preceding.
  • To take or bring forth in advance of something or somebody else; hinder by preoccupation or prevention; anticipate; prevent or counteract beforehand.
  • Synonyms To monopolize, engross, preoccupy.
  • n. A footboard.
  • n. The lookout man who walks before the operator and his victim when a garrote-robbery is to be committed. , verb

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. keep from happening or arising; make impossible
  • v. act in advance of; deal with ahead of time

Etymologies

Middle English forestallen, to waylay and rob, from forestal, highway robbery, ambush, from Old English foresteall : fore-, fore- + steall, position; see stel- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English forstal, from Old English foresteall ("an intervention, hindrance (of justice), ambush, assault, offence of waylaying on the highway, fine for such an offence, resistance, opposition"), equivalent to fore- +‎ stall. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English forestallen ("to forestall, intercept, ambush, way-lay"), from forestalle ("a forestalling, interception"), from Old English foresteall ("intervention, hindrance of justice, ambush"), from fore- ("ahead of, before") + steall ("position"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • So rather than sort of eliminating politics it really might just kind of forestall it and really kind of rile it up over the next 48 months.

    CNN Transcript Aug 13, 2008

  • Mr. Stone then takes issue with S. 440's recognition of the President's power to "forestall" an attack on the US or our Forces abroad.

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers

  • S. 440 carefully circumscribes the President's discretion to "forestall" by placing the burden on him to prove that an attack is "direct and imminent."

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers

  • While the word "forestall" does permit a degree of discretion, it seems incongruous to recognize the President's power to repel attacks and yet force him to wait until the first gun is fired before implementing adequate countermeasures.

    Sen. Eagleton & War Powers

  • Portugal, in an attempt to 'forestall' a debt crisis, has already begun imposing austerity measures, including "cutting welfare benefits and government hiring as well as selling assets and raising taxes."

    Signs of the Times

  • Which d'you think, 'forestall' or 'outmaneuver'? "

    Operation Luna

  • His main feelings were rivalry with Wallace ” the feeling of rivalry was very strong in him ” and being "terribly anxious" that Wallace would "forestall" him (he was also anxious because of illness and death in his family).

    Darwin's Complaint

  • In sum, while religion did not create or encourage the feminist revolution of the last half century, neither did religion do much to forestall it, even among the most fervent opponents of the near-simultaneous revolution in sexual morality.

    American Grace

  • Did religion stand prophetically on the side of the poor demanding social justice (as some Christians believe Jesus did), or did religion forestall social reform, providing deadening consolation for economic injustice (as Karl Marx argued in speaking of religion as the “opiate of the masses”)?

    American Grace

  • "Our studies show that neurofeedback in early stages of deployment can actually forestall descent into PTSD, as well as providing dramatic results for both active duty soldiers and veterans suffering from this debilitating condition."

    Craig Newmark: Neurofeedback treatment for PTSD?

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